Tuesday, July 7, 2015

One Thousand Gratitudes, Part XXVII: 350-326

July, July.

July makes me sigh.

I say that because -- at some point in this series -- I anticipated finishing in August.

That leaves me with a considerable amount of work to do in the next seven weeks, and the worst possible judgment -- if I don't get it done by then -- looms : my own.

Self-criticism, at times, weighs heavier than that of others does.

I can sit here and say that it doesn't matter, but I'd be lying.

What matters lands in the department of discipline and execution, and anything else only qualifies as an excuse.

Nevertheless, I feel good about where I've gotten, and I thank you for being along for the ride.

Three Hundred Fifty: the state park system

Three Hundred Forty-Nine: Wallace State Park

(Wallace State Park, Father's Day 2015)

      Love it because of its simplicity, proximity, and that my family and I have camped there twice now.

Three Hundred Forty-Eight: the National Park Service

      What a great idea. A quick glance tells me I’ve been to 11 of the 59. Feels pretty lucky.

Three Hundred Forty-Seven: the feeling of Father’s Day

      Lot of emotions here. Or rather, things that resemble what used to be emotions. I don’t think I have much in the way of emotion anymore.

      Either way, my biological grandfathers moved to the coasts when I was young. I moved away when my grandpa was still alive, but he died before I moved back. My father’s been gone for 13 years, leaving me and my father-in-law to see to it that these children of mine have some good male bonding, influence, and love.

      I don’t know what that’s supposed to look like.

      I only know that I love my kids so much that at times the feeling resembles suffocation. I know how to show them that I love them and I know what general good-dude-ism looks like, so I just roll with that.

      I guess I feel grateful that dads have a day to get acknowledged, but like other holidays, it comes, goes, and the next day arrives. Like we’re supposed to hold all dad acknowledgement for that one day, express it, and be done.

      Thinking about my dad, my grandfathers, and my kids isn’t like that.

      Anyway, I think the gratitude has everything to do with a mindfulness, a mental presence of what it means to have had a dad, to be a dad, and the positive impact men can have on their children if they’re intentional about it.

Three Hundred Forty-Six: the smell of fresh-brewed coffee in the kitchen

      I refer to morning time, here, as I almost never drink coffee beyond midday.
      I don’t know if I envisioned that this would change, but getting up is hard. I wish I could check in to my rest chamber and spring from the bed after five hours of sleep. In reality, I can crank out 12 hours and still feel sleepy for the first three I’m awake.

      Depending on where I’m coming from though, I love the feeling of coming downstairs (or upstairs) to the smelled of fresh-soaked grounds. Reminds me of the Grateful Dead song, “Help on the Way.”

Three Hundred Forty-Five: when I wake and write

      Yes, getting up is hard. It’s hard because I love sleep, but also because getting in bed early is still a challenge for a 20-year night-owl restaurant guy. When I make it happen, though, when I hear my alarm and don’t ignore it and have my actual butt in the actual chair with fingers stroking keys by five o’clock, I feel good about myself. Happy, even.

      Very grateful for that.

Three Hundred Forty-Four: the continuous, multi-track jam

      Have to give primary credit to the Grateful Dead here (and a hushed vote to Phish for taking the thing to another level), but I feel an unbridled glory just looking at the following word pairings:

“China/Rider” (China Cat Sunflower->I Know You Rider)

“Scarlet/Fire” (Scarlet Begonias->Fire on the Mountain)

“Help/Slip/Franklin’s” (Help on the Way->Slipknot->Franklin’s Tower)

      For those unaware the dash followed by the less-than symbol implies continuity, that the band went right into the beginning of the second song without stopping the first. Innumerable setlists from the archives show this practice of connected songs, a blended chunk (or entire set) of music that just keeps rolling, seldom stopping to take a breath. A style that both birthed and defined the jam band, I give thanks for the energy this approach gives to both a concert audience and a recording.

Three Hundred Forty-Three: dress shirts with breast pockets

      Now that my life can’t be t-shirts and flip flops, I’m trying to develop a decent collection of dress shirts, and -- picky creature that I am -- I like the breast pocket. Got used to putting notes and business cards and my cell phone in there with all those years wearing chef coats. Old habits, I guess.

Three Hundred Forty-Two: dress shirts in general

      Breast pocket or not, I’m thankful to have enough work attire to get me through a couple of weeks of work without having to do laundry. It’s pretty luxurious.

Three Hundred Forty-One: dress shirts that hide my gut

      These, of course, are my favorite.

Three Hundred Forty: Banco de Gaia

      Electronica, dub, ambient, whatever you call them, I got introduced to these guys 20 years ago, and the Spotify playlist I had rolling at the time I wrote this reminded me of them. Probably gonna have to dust off some of the old BdG CDs and give them a listen. Very cool stuff. Thankful I know of them and own a good chunk of their discography.

Three Hundred Thirty-Nine: South Park clip #14: Wheel of Fortune


Three Hundred Thirty-Eight: a quiet house, part two: in the morning

      I love the lack of noise in the morning. I dig it in the evening after the kids have fallen asleep, but I might like the precious chunks before they wake even more. This does not mean that I don’t love the crooning of my son from his crib (Note: His bellows imply that without breakfast he will soon perish by way of starvation.) or the pitter pat of my daughter’s feet; I do. That quiet house, though…

Three Hundred Thirty-Seven: the conclusion of hockey season

      The NHL season (and especially the Stanley Cup playoffs) trumps all -- in my opinion -- professional-sports years and I do love keeping my finger on its pulse. The October-June run, however, embodies the proverbial marathon, and for the purposes of time commitment, I tend to find relief in its conclusion, especially when my team makes its perennial early exit and their primary foe advances to hoist the coveted trophy. The early days of summer leave me not yet invested in Royals baseball and without any of my television programs underway, so in essence I can ignore the idiot box altogether, which I enjoy.

Three Hundred Thirty-Six: “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams

      Washing the wares at the kitchen sink the other night I thought of Larry Hartsfield, college reading assignments, and one of my favorite poems:

This Is Just to Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Three Hundred Thirty-Five: e e cummings

            I won’t pretend the ability to do the guy’s work justice in one entry, but suffice it to say that he experimented with language, invocation, punctuation, and everything in between. For example:

e this park is e
ody’s elsewhere
e except me 6 e
nglish sparrow
utumn & t
he rai

Three Hundred Thirty-Four: Tao Te Ching

            One of my favorite books. It came up the other day with a trainee in my car. I wrote about it here.

Three Hundred Thirty-Three: Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet

            I still don’t understand everything about Tao Te Ching, but I remember discovering these books by Hoff in my college years. They helped. Wonder if that sister of mine ever read her copies. I’m sure she will tell me she did, probably right after she bought her college mattress and paid the tab at Tanner’s. Wait, what?

Three Hundred Thirty-Two: Tracey Chattaway

            This lady’s stuff appears on Spotify and -- as tends to be the case with newfound music -- I’m eager to check out more of her stuff.

Three Hundred Thirty-One: “When life is good…”

            While working with the aforementioned trainee the other day, we came across a lady named Tracy. She can be called a peculiar sort of human being, but then so can we all. I asked her a question and her answer began with the phrase, “When life is good.”

            She runs a segment of a Christian-y operation so I imagined this odd as I figured the viewpoint from those in this operation to be one of life always being good, but whatever.

            I found meaning in her introductory word segment and I liked it.

Three Hundred Thirty: avoiding judgment

            This is not something I do. This is something I do do. This is something I do not want to do. This is something I’m trying to be mindful of. I’m grateful for organic reminders of my desire to be mindful.

Three Hundred Twenty-Nine: gym tools

            Now that I’ve developed (at least in my head) a regular workout schedule, I’m recognizing the exercise rats at the Y, and it didn’t take long before an unpleasant encounter with a beefcake.

            This dude strolled in and set himself up on three pieces of equipment, one of which I’d pegged as my next station. He finished (or so I thought) on it and as I moved toward it I asked the polite question:

“Are you finished here?”

            He gave me a half-second glance and whispered the apparent-to-him-and-only-him answer.


            “You’re not?”

            With another whisper and a fractional shake of his head, he repeated himself.


            I had headphones on so I couldn’t hear great, so, sounding like a dunce I asked again.

            “You’re not?”

            “No,” the final whisper and annoyed shake confirmed it for me.

            I found another piece of equipment that served the same purpose as the one I’d sought and hurried through my repetitions, pouting.

            This meathead hadn’t been the only one, either; another dude not far from our exchange rotated alternated sets between two pieces of equipment.

            I’ve been out of the loop for a while, and I’ve never researched the etiquette, but I’ve always assumed that you do your sets on one piece then move to the next. Everyone’s on a schedule; everyone wants to get in and get out.

            The gratitude, then, looks something like this: I’m glad I’ve never felt (and hope I’ve never acted) so important that I wouldn’t consider the needs of others either at the same time I consider mine or right after.

Three Hundred Twenty-Eight: a recent conversation

            I ran into a guy I know a few Fridays ago. I wouldn’t call him a friend because we’ve seen each other like five times total, but I imagine that -- under appropriate circumstances -- we would be.

            Nevertheless, I asked him how things were with he and his family and his candid answer shocked me: he and his wife have all but finalized divorce.

            Like I said, I don’t know the dude, but I have an opinion of him as a solid guy. I’ve met his wife a time or two and exchanged a couple of messages with her; I’d decided her to be good people, too. They have a child together, and, well, I just couldn’t believe it.

            Appropriate or not, I probed. He shared, and as one might imagine, things sounded awful. Their business is their business, I’m not them, and I haven’t lived their lives, but it was difficult to hear. It was difficult to hear, difficult not to judge, and sad to absorb.

            I suppose, above all, I felt for him as a dad, and for the difficulty this is and will be for their child.

            I found myself wishing I could do something for him, for his offspring, for their collective emotion. I pained for their steps in the process that have happened, those in which they walk, and those that lie ahead.

            Selfishly, it felt good to talk to someone about something real. It felt good to not talk about work for a minute, to not thing about schedules, and naps, and bedtimes, and my own frustrations and shortcomings in life. It felt good to share a few relationship troubles with him, and it felt good to be an ear.

            At a different time in my life, I might’ve cried, but -- as I’ve said before -- I don’t know where that me went; I may never find him again.

            I felt thankful for our encounter, gracious that he shared and that we talked, and removed from it now for a couple weeks, I give thanks that the difficulties my wife and I have experienced in marriage have tended to return us to a good space and not led us down the path of despair and abandonment.

Three Hundred Twenty-Seven: my son’s speech

            Raising your second born is a trip. It’s like you have all of the experience for all of the phases and stages, but you don’t remember how you got it. I have next to zero recollection of my daughter learning to speak, and now that my son’s going down that road it’s just plain bizarre. (Note: While typing that sentence, he approached me with a toy cell phone and said, “I’n’a see,” which led me to believe there was an issue with the phone. There was: it needed batteries. So we went out to the garage to get a screwdriver and he spied the wiffle ball and bat. “I’n balls,” he said, and then he spied all of the trikes and wagons, to which he commented, “I’n wide bikes.”)

            This blows the ever-loving stuffings out of my mind. I feel like he says three new things a day, and I’m grateful for each one I hear, since I appear to have spent all of my daughter’s speech development in a coma.

Three Hundred Twenty-Six: “Hey, Jude”

            The other night this gem came up on Pandora while I scrolled Facebook, reading all of the joy people felt regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage. I never tire of this tune, and at that moment, it occurred to me that it always makes me feel good, that there is good in the world.

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